After a strong showing in the free agency period, the Bears looked to use the NFL Draft to fill a few remaining holes on their roster. Entering day one, they had needs at Corner back, Safety, Defensive Tackle, and needed to add depth at the half back position as well as on the offensive line. I decided to break down each selection and explain how they can help the Bears become a playoff contender in 2014.
1st Round (14): Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech
Bears fans were jolted when they saw defensive tackle Aaron Donald selected by the Rams at pick 13, leaving defensive back as the best area of value for Chicago. However, given the lack of great talent at the safety position that the Bears currently have, Bears fans were shocked many when they opted to take Kyle Fuller.
If the Bears felt they had to go for a corner here then I completely endorse the decision of taking Fuller. He has great length at his position and impressed scouts with his versatility within Virginia Tech's defense by playing some safety and linebacker roles in some packages in addition to lining up at corner back. He's a tough, physical football player who is aggressive when it comes to tackling running backs. Fuller makes occasional mental errors he makes when diagnosing routes, but possesses great recovery speed and athleticism that can help him compensate for some of that. This is a guy who can step in and contribute right away, possibly in some nickel sets and sub formations until he eventually gets the nod to line up as a consistent starter for the Bears.
2nd Round (31): Ego Ferguson DT LSU
Ego Ferguson is a very skilled defensive tackle for a second rounder, he demands double teams and excels at stopping the run. Ferguson has a very high motor and his tape shows that for a 300 pound guy, he's been in great shape and is just as powerful in the first quarter as he is in the fourth. He was a one year starter at LSU so he's a little low on experience, but with the proper coaching he can contribute early on for the Bears and learn how to become a better pass rusher.
3rd Round (82): Will Sutton DT Arizona State
This go around, the Bears took a pass rushing defensive tackle and got great value with this pick in the third round. Sutton was a two time defensive player of the year for the Pac-12 conference. He projects as a three technique in the Bears system, there he can use quick hands and power to break into the backfield and pressure the quarterback. Sutton's play has been inconsistent at times and has looked a little sluggish for his position in space. I believe he may have to shed a few pounds to become more disruptive as he improves his quickness and agility.
4th Round (117) Ka'Deem Carey HB Arizona
Carey is a guy who was a top two or three tailback on many draft boards until his off the field concerns and a sub par 40 time caused his stock to drop. However, on the field he proved to be one of the most well rounded players in this draft. His tough and physical running style fits the mold of what the Chicago Bears like, and his ability to pass block and catch the ball out of the backfield made him an absolute steal for the Bears at pick 117.
4th Round (131) Brock Vereen S Minnesota
I like the fact that the Bears traded back into the fourth round to get a versatile defensive back who can play safety. Vereen was a starter for three years at Minnesota and has a plethora of experience at both the corner and safety positions. The knock on this guy is that he's not a forceful hitter and doesn't have very good hands. Vereen is still a great student of the game and is competitive enough to possibly snag some starts as a safety this year.
6th round (183) David Fales QB San Diego State University
Fales was selected for the most part because he was the best player on the board when the Bears were making their pick. He's an accurate passer with a quick release who can develop his footwork in the pocket through working with Marc Trestman. Fales won't be a starter, but he's a guy that can possibly garner some trade interest in a couple years if he shows improvement. If he doesn't improve as projected he'd still be a solid back up for Jay Cutler and has similar arm talent to former back up, Josh McCown.
6th Round (191) Pat O'Donnell P Miami
Out of all the positional holes the Bears needed to address this off season, many fans might not have known that the Bears entered the draft without a punter on their depth chart. Many fans also might not know that their former punter, Adam Podlesh, was near the bottom of the league in every punting category. Most players select special team players in this round, so taking a punter here isn't such a bad idea. O'Donnell averaged about 48 yards per punt and will most likely be a day one starter.
7th Round (246) Charles Leno OT/G Boise State
Leno was a slightly underrated tackle at Boise State who projects to be a guard for the Bears who came in to day three looking to add some depth to their offensive line. Leno is a very good run blocker who may have been just in or outside the top ten offensive tackle rankings for some teams. It was a great move by Phil Emery to trade back into the seventh round to take this guy and develop him into a contributor over time.
Draft Grade: B+
While they surprised many people by not taking a safety in round one, the Bears still had a great draft. They stayed true to their draft boards and took players that they needed to fill out their roster and compete for starting positions. Most importantly they selected players that can frustrate the talented offenses in their division. Fans should be excited about the overall depth of this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I don't expect injuries to hold this defense back in the coming season.